We are less than ten days removed from the end of the NFL season and this long football-less drought has finally, mercifully come to an end. The inaugural season of the AAF is upon us with the first games being played this past weekend. If you are unfamiliar with this acronym and thought there were an inordinate amount of life insurance posts hitting your timeline last Saturday, you are probably not alone. These were the first contests of the Alliance of American Football. What’s new in this league? Not a whole lot. There are some minor rule changes like no kickoffs, a modified ‘onside kick’ rule that is far too cumbersome and convoluted to explain and more mics on the field for coaches and players to get caught saying horrible things on primetime network television. Sounds pretty good, right? Well, it is, until you get to the actual football.
This new league is headlined by the likes of former New York Jets second round pick Christian Hackenberg and former Cleveland Browns first round pick Trent Richardson. The rest of the rosters are filled with a plethora of undrafted free agents and practice squad nobodies whose names you never bothered to learn. I suppose an argument could be made for never learning Hackenberg’s name, but it’s a bit late for that.
The season will be shorter than your typical NFL slate as well, only lasting 10 weeks rather than the usual 17. The league is made up of 8 teams from across the country with names right out of Any Given Sunday and with unnecessarily colorful jerseys to match. Four of these teams will make the playoffs with a champion being crowned in Las Vegas, Nevada on April 27th. I’m partial to the Salt Lake Stallions purely on name alone, but feel free to devise your own allegiances. I’m a sucker for Stallions, or maybe just alliteration, doesn’t matter, I’m all in.
You might be thinking to yourself, haven’t we seen this before? We sure have. There was the short lived United States Football League that spanned from 1983-1985 and was infamously killed in an ill-advised attempt to take the NFL to federal court. The USFL did win this lawsuit, only to be awarded $1 by the jury and being bankrupted in the process. Apparently, the legal fees associated with securing an antitrust victory over a multibillion dollar corporation are not cheap, who knew?
If you are too young for the 80’s, then you surely recall the XFL, the most recent attempt to compete in the pro football sector. This endeavor received an even quicker, albeit less ceremonious end, lasting only the one season in 2001. Luckily for us, or unluckily, however you view it, Vince McMahon does not give up so easily. The creator of the original XFL will be bringing his product back into our lives in 2020. This means, if the AAF can keep it together, in just another year we could have as many as three ‘professional’ football leagues in our lives. If the dearth of talent we witnessed this weekend is any indication of things to come, adding an entire additional league should surely solve that problem. I personally cannot wait to see what happens because I love football. If that’s not enough to get you to watch, then at least remember that witnessing people make the same mistakes over and over, only to crash and burn spectacularly, in a wildly public setting is never not funny. Go Stallions.